The Dream Universe: How Fundamental Physics Lost Its Way

Doubleday. Mar. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9780385543859. $26.95. SCI
Multiverse, supersymmetry, and string theory are some of the grand mathematical constructs theoretical physicists have conceptualized to explain how the universe works. But are these physicists practicing science or philosophy? Lindley (Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science) attempts to answer this question in his intriguing exposition on the current state of fundamental physics. The author suggests that research today is too far removed from the observable, knowable world, and more closely resembles how the ancient philosophers thought about the nature of things. The author, an astrophysicist interested in the history of science, builds his argument by tracing how the modern scientific method devised by Galileo in the 17th century was instrumental in transforming how scientists practiced fundamental physics. He further describes the development of this practice throughout the subsequent centuries up until quantum mechanics created a paradigm shift in scientific thinking during the 20th century, leading to the more philosophical theories of today.
VERDICT Although Lindley does not offer a prescription for this dilemma, he nevertheless makes a compelling argument about how science has drifted away from objective reality in order to explain the mysteries of the universe.
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